As one of the front women for rock hit-makers Heart, guitarist and singer Nancy Wilson has had a presence on rock radio for decades. Now, with Heart on hiatus, Wilson has teamed up with former Prince protégé Liv Warfield to form Roadcase Royale. Rounded out with Warfield’s guitarist Ryan Waters and Heart veterans Dan Rothchild on bass, Chris Joyner on keyboards and Ben Smith on drums, the music of Roadcase Royale features Heart-style rock, potent R&B and a delightful amalgam of the two. Fans will be able to own First Things First, the upcoming debut album from Roadcase Royale on Sept. 22.
While Roadcase Royale have already been playing out, they begin an extensive tour in mid-September, for much of which they’ll serve as the opening act for Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band. We were able to chat by email with Wilson and she told us, among other things, that she had a bit of a crush on Seger back in the day. Her commentary below is given exclusively to AXS.com.
AXS: You’ve gone through the excitement of release day many times, but it must be especially exciting to anticipate the release of First Things First. It looks like the band has a travel day that day; do you have anything planned in the way of celebration?
Nancy Wilson: For the Sept. 22 release day of First Things First I’m not sure how the travel day will pan out, but I do know for sure that there will be a lot of high fives and as much celebrating as we can fit into the day! I feel this one will be extra meaningful to us all since we all worked really hard to make it happen!
AXS: What were your main challenges in putting Roadcase Royale together?
NW: The main challenge putting this band together was the fact that we all live in three different cities (LA, Seattle and Chicago) and had to make everyone’s schedule work. Plus all the extra finances involved since we started out of pocket to get the band going with rehearsals, writing, recording, mixing and mastering. The Loud and Proud label signed us up so now there is some better support for us to keep going.
AXS: Much of the upcoming Roadcase Royale tour will be with Bob Seger. Do you have a favorite memory of interacting with him in the past?
NW: I think Roadcase Royale opening for Bob Seger will be a natural match up. Seger’s style of writing and singing has so much soul and our band is very “rock ’n’ soul” as well. I met Bob Seger many years back at a record release party and he and I had a couple of dances together. I was kind of wishing I didn’t have a boyfriend at the time!
AXS: There are a couple of Heart songs on First Things First, including a funky take on “Even it Up.” Having such a deep repertoire, how did you decide on which of your own songs to reinterpret for the Roadcase Royale debut?
NW: We have been doing quite a few Heart songs for the live shows like “Crazy on You,” “Even it Up” and “These Dreams.” Choosing the songs is a matter of what’s a natural fit for Liv or me to sing. We are thinking of adding a couple more Heart songs for fun. I think it’s cool for the Heart fans who come see us to be treated to some of their favorites. We aim to please!
AXS: Tell us a little about your work with Little Kids Rock.
NW: I’ve been in talks with Epiphone guitars and really was happy to help them with their Little Kids Rock program. I showed up at an event where there was a large group of little kids, mostly girls and their bands showing me their musical skills. It could not get much cuter than that. I also gave away some guitars for them to take home and learn on. It's a really great program to help little kids catch fire in the field of music.
AXS: One of the things available for purchase by fans on the Roadcase Royale Pledgemusic page is one of your top hats. What is your most cherished piece of memorabilia relating to your career?
NW: My most cherished piece of memorabilia relating to my career is hard to pinpoint. Guitars are obviously more friends than memorabilia, so it’s stuff like a worn out sleep shirt I wore a million times on the tour bus. Or the pea coat I got at Harrods London in the late ’80s that I still wear. It’s not anything of great value, though I’m super proud of my Rock and Roll Hall of Fame statue! It lives on top of a piano in my bedroom.
Follow Roadcase Royale and find a complete list of tour dates here.